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Can Mentoring Help Female Assistant Professors? Interim Results from a Randomized Trial

  • Francine D. Blau
  • Janet M. Currie
  • Rachel T.A. Croson
  • Donna K. Ginther

While much has been written about the potential benefits of mentoring in academia, very little research documents its effectiveness. We present data from a randomized controlled trial of a mentoring program for female economists organized by the Committee for the Status of Women in the Economics Profession and sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the American Economics Association. To our knowledge, this is the first randomized trial of a mentoring program in academia. We evaluate the performance of three cohorts of participants and randomly-assigned controls from 2004, 2006, and 2008. This paper presents an interim assessment of the program's effects. Our results suggest that mentoring works. After five years the 2004 treatment group averaged .4 more NSF or NIH grants and 3 additional publications, and were 25 percentage points more likely to have a top-tier publication. There are significant but smaller effects at three years post-treatment for the 2004 and 2006 cohorts combined. While it is too early to assess the ultimate effects of mentoring on the academic careers of program participants, the results suggest that this type of mentoring may be one way to help women advance in the Economics profession and, by extension, in other male-dominated academic fields.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15707.

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Date of creation: Jan 2010
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Publication status: published as Francine D. Blau & Janet M. Currie & Rachel T. A. Croson & Donna K. Ginther, 2010. "Can Mentoring Help Female Assistant Professors? Interim Results from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 348-52, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15707
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  1. Pantelis Kalaitzidakis & Theofanis P. Mamuneas & Thanasis Stengos, 2003. "Rankings of Academic Journals and Institutions in Economics," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(6), pages 1346-1366, December.
  2. Donna K. Ginther & Shulamit Kahn, 2004. "Women in Economics: Moving Up or Falling Off the Academic Career Ladder?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 193-214, Summer.
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